What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

08 July 2011

Grey Is My Water (Part 1)

Every time we go to Indiana, my husband is bound to say at least once, "You are so like your Grandma!" He's right, of course. Case in point: The last time we visited, Chad was rinsing an apple or washing his hands or some such nonsense, and he let the water run about three milliseconds longer than Grandma thought was necessary, so she launched into scolding mode: "You're wasting the water! We have to pay for that!" Yes, in case you're wondering, most of my best lines are actually my grandmother's lectures repurposed for the 21st century.

Loch Lomond. The Loch Lomond. As
in, "You'll take the high road." That
Loch Lomond.
So, it's genetics and not just eco-craziness that makes me reluctant to waste water. Unfortunately, there are lots of ways to use water and not as many ways to reuse it: Dishwashing, cooking (specifically pasta or beans, in this house), laundry, showers, handwashing, and of course, flushing. Some of this water is capture-able, some not.

Today I want to yammer on a bit about uses for greywater; next week I'll talk more about water conservation. And just to clarify before we go further: Greywater is used water from non-toilet sources (although Crunchy Chicken does point out that water from the kitchen sink could be considered blackwater due to the organic material). Blackwater is from the toilet, because it contains, erm, toilet stuff. Whitewater comes from your taps and is drinkable (but has no clever Wikipedia page). My goal is to use more whitewater for drinking, cooking, and showering purposes and use greywater for other purposes, if possible.

Unfortunately, we live in an apartment and don't have the option of installing a greywater system (those things that take shower, bathroom sink, and/or washing machine water and redirect it to plant watering or some other non-drinking use). So, I'm having to make do with what I have. At the suggestion of Crunchy Chicken, I put a bucket in the shower a couple of months ago and use the collected water to flush the toilet, in a "this is the least I can do to save water" kind of way. (Chad says this dirties up our clean toilet. I say there are more important things in life that sparkling toilets, especially since Central Texas is in a drought, again. Chad says, "Have it your way, then." And so I do.)

And so, I thought, why not put all my used-once, captured water into the greywater buckets? Rinse water (I use a big bowl in the sink, instead of the sink itself) from the dishes, the cooled water left over after I incubate my yogurt (I don't want to use it for cooking or drinking after it's been sitting in an old milk jug for eight hours), or the day-old water forgotten in my water bottle. I can't do anything about my laundry water or my kitchen sink water, both of which would need the previously-mentioned greywater system to clean it up a bit before watering the lawn or whatnot, but I can at least make a dent in our water use. And if I didn't flush my toilet with greywater, it would be flushed with whitewater straight from the pipes, which is a pity.

Do you have any kind of greywater system, or another way to reuse water that isn't too dirty?


Anonymous said...

Sadly we don't do anything with our "grey" water. I can remember my gram using dish water for her garden and laundry water for the lawn. She used to say that the detergent in the water killed bugs.

Liza said...

I think the terminology is "living in the minute" and the more we do of it, the less we consider phantom external factors. Yet, it's so easy to fall back and blame fate or luck...

Su said...

@Delores: That's actually something that I've heard recommended to gardeners who don't want to use pesticides: Spray soapy water on the plants (or directly on the bugs). Doesn't hurt the veggies but keeps off the pests! Grams really do know everything! :)

@Liza: A very good point. Something I'll probably write more about next week is how water shortages seem very unreal in North America, which is why we use it so casually, I think.

mshatch said...

what a great idea to use water collected from the shower to flush the toilet! I am going to go get a bucket and put that idea into use! Thank you!

Deniz Bevan said...

I *should* have a grey water system. Saving old water to use for flushing the toilet is a great idea!

Su said...

@mshatch: Glad you like the idea! It's fun to pass along useful stuff.

@Deniz: I think I'll have to put it on my "someday" list. It would be cool to have!

Madeleine said...

good point. I try to reuse my rinsing waster on the garden. We don't flush the loo at night to save water, but otherwise, no. I should recycle water more. :O)

Su said...

I did do the "if it's yellow, let it mellow" thing for a while, but my husband was not enthusiastic about that plan. ;)

Lisa Potts said...

Must be an Indiana thing because my mom says it all the time too. It HAS taught my kids to turn the water off while they are brushing their teeth and to use it just for rinsing.
Now if I could only get them to take shorter showers.

Lisa Potts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Su said...

Ha! Yeah, I'd totally believe it's an Indiana thing.

Grahame said...

I want one of these: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/07/wash_your_hands.php

Su said...

VERY cool! I want one, too!